Two years have passed since this Administration was launched by the power of the people through the Candlelight Revolution. It has been a time when we raced without pausing, solemnly upholding the command of the people to create a properly functioning country. We have done our best to restore the country’s fallen image and safeguard the constitutional value of a democratic republic. We have made it crystal clear that no one or thing can reign over the people.
Over the past 70 years, we have achieved economic development and democratization that are admired and envied by many people around the world. It is a great feat achieved by the blood and sweat of all Koreans. However, our achievements still have numerous shortcomings. It is a must to constantly take on a challenge and change to overcome them.
What we need is the courage to resolutely depart from what we’ve been accustomed to in the outdated order. It will be impossible to escape from the low-growth trap unless we forsake our acclimation to the fast-follower model economy that allowed us to achieve high economic growth by quickly following developed countries. Unless we destroy our acclimation to the "privilege economy" in which opportunities and benefits are concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of the many, we won't be able to escape from the morass of inequality.
Without rectifying our acclimation to an injustice, which has taken deceit, privileges, expediency and the evasion of the law for granted, we cannot expect a fair and just country. If our acclimation to a structure of confrontation remains unchanged, a Korean Peninsula of peace and prosperity will not come about.
Change is already not a matter of choice but of survival. We have not hesitated to change over the past two years. While redesigning the Republic of Korea, we have pursued a grand transition. We have departed from the old paradigm of the past to create a new people-centered economy. We have striven to build a country where everyone prospers on the basis of the two main pillars of dynamism and inclusiveness.
In response to the challenges of our flagship industries' weakening competitiveness and the low-growth trend becoming the norm, we have focused our capabilities on creating new growth engines through policy measures to promote manufacturing innovation, foster new industries and pursue regulatory innovation. In order to cope with the challenges posed by deepening polarization, the low birth rate and aging population, we have put forth a vision of an inclusive nation that is defined by coexistence and mutual prosperity and have broadened the horizon of our policy by guaranteeing a basic standard of living, going beyond the safeguards for a basic livelihood.
We are now raising the inclusiveness of our society in a groundbreaking manner by increasing investments in children, providing enhanced assistance for the elderly, implementing a system in which the Government takes responsibility for dementia patients and building a society free of fear over hospital expenses while expanding employment and societal safety nets. We have renewed government responsibility and roles concerning disaster prevention and prompt responses for a safe Republic of Korea.
We have taken a bold path to fundamentally change the order surrounding the Korean Peninsula where the threat of war has persisted. As the rightful owners of the fate of the Korean Peninsula, we have remained devoted to resolving problems through dialogue while persevering and consistently adhering to the principle of peace.
As a consequence, peace on the Korean Peninsula has become an irreversible flow. Although dismantling the 70-year-long Cold War order is a huge undertaking and numerous tasks remain unresolved, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula is becoming a realistic mission, not a pipe dream.
The next three years will be built upon the challenges we have taken on and changes over the past two years. Now that we have laid the foundation for the grand transition by going through a daunting process, we now have to use that foundation to bring about substantive changes in a way that the people can actually sense.
We will head toward a country where peace is more firmly established, the opportunity to work and follow a dream is guaranteed, a reasonable outcome can be obtained in proportion to the amount of effort, and everyone prospers together. We will help usher in an era without fail in which the people can advance on the strength of an innovative, inclusive nation and a new Korean Peninsula regime.
The Government has to renew its resolve again with an attitude to take responsibility for the people’s lives. All public servants have worked diligently and well, but the endeavor to date is only the beginning. There’s still a long way to go and much more to do.
Until now, the focus has been on changing a large framework and launching new policies. However, these endeavors will be of no use unless results follow. Now, it is time to secure recognition from the people that their lives have started to improve as the policies now permeate their everyday lives.
I urge you to pick up the pace so that the policies announced by the Government can be realized. Along with endeavors to gather legislative and budgetary support by strengthening communication with the National Assembly, the Government itself has to do its utmost to ensure that the policies quickly take effect through stronger administrative efforts.
Moreover, more endeavors have to be made for dialogue and communication with the beneficiaries of and stakeholders related to the policies so that this can stir up the people’s interest and induce their participation in the policies. Efforts to raise public awareness of policies should be strengthened in ways that are tailored to the people. Beginning with officials at Cheong Wa Dae, all public servants should maintain the resolve and passion they initially had at the time of the launch of this Administration.
The people are at the top of the hierarchy. They are evaluators as well. I ask you to keep in mind that the people are the president and to renew your resolve to remain always focused on them and take full responsibility.
I also have special requests for politicians. It is truly regrettable to see those in politics remain stuck in the past although the world is changing significantly. It seems like little changed before and after the Candlelight Revolution. I hope that outdated ideological standards that politically exploit the division of the Korean Peninsula will now be discarded.
There are no ruling and opposition parties when it comes to achieving peace, which is a universal ideal that humanity shares, the aspiration of all Koreans and the hope of the people. A prosperous Korean Peninsula – where peace is established and a new economy on the Peninsula becomes a new growth engine – offers hope for all of us. I am looking forward to politicians sailing in the same boat toward that hope.
In particular, politics that instigates confrontation cannot lead us to the future and win back the people’s trust. The politics of inciting loathing among the public with blunt remarks and vicious words while dividing the people to an extreme degree cannot give the people hope. If the National Assembly does not operate, it will damage the entire population. I hope that politicians will compete with good politics rather than with vicious talk and achieve a sophisticated politics in which they are evaluated based on their policies.
Pledging myself to the people for the next three years, I feel unlimited responsibility. I am well aware that the people are weary and their lives are tough. I will move closer to the lives of the people. I will work to give them more hope and help bring a brighter future without fail. I hope that the people will stand together as they always have.